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Residents reflect on loss of iconic saloon

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MONTPELIER - While fire investigators sorted through the rubble of an iconic country music saloon, residents recalled the many memories they have of the Bear Creek Saloon.

The town of Montpelier is known as a rural farming community. Residents there say it's a great place to relax and enjoy life.

"It's a real neat town, and you wouldn't want to meet better people than you would meet in this town," said Sank Page.

"This place is unique. It's a small community. We're all friends, family and relatives. We all work together, live together and do community involvement together. It's a great little town," said Billy Claire Tycer.

The town is made up of a few small businesses like a dollar store, bank, feed store and a western store. Billie Claire Tycer runs the town's feed store that produces its own special horse feed. Tycer and others grew up going the Bear Creek Saloon. Many worked there at some point.

"It was a place of nothing but real fun. You come here and you didn't have no disturbance. They kept peace here, and it was a real nice place to come to," said Page.

Now what once stood as "the biggest honky-tonk south of Nashville" sits along Highway 16 as a smoking pile of rubble. The fire started just after more than a thousand people packed into the dance hall for a concert.

Fire investigators spent Monday looking for the source of the fire. Investigators say the saloon's sprinkler system may have malfunctioned.

With the saloon burned to the ground, the 289 Montpelier residents are left without one of their staples. Residents we spoke with say you have to look at the bright side.

"Maybe something will be bigger and better and something else will be there and it will, you know, things have a way of working out for the best so maybe some good will come out of it," said Tycer.

Until then, the people of the small town only have the memories to paint a picture of the Bear Creek Saloon.

"I feel bad when I pass here. I know I'm going to feel bad, and it's going to be missed," said Page.

The western store next to the saloon was not damaged in the fire. The saloon's website states that Bear Creek will be rebuilt.



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